With organisations representing Bru Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) asserting that none of the Bru refugees shall return to Mizoram without fulfilment of their demands, as many as 54 people returned from the relief camps based in Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions in North Tripura in last 48 hours.
The organisations say that the Bru refugees will not return to Mizoram unless their demands including verification of land allotted for them in Mizoram, one-time payment of cash benefits, and post repatriation safety and security are met by the government.
Residents of the camps have also sent a memorandum to Mizoram Home Minister via North Tripura district magistrate on September 30 saying they are reluctant to return to Mizoram under present conditions.
The process of repatriation ran into hurdles earlier this year following a disagreement on the benefits offered by Centre to the refugees. Since then, the number of families willing to return has slumped for the last two days.
A joint press statement issued by Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum (MBDPF), Mizoram Bru Indigenous Democratic Movement (MBIDM), Bru Tribal Development Society (BTDS), Camp Defense Committee (CDC) and other organizations active across the Bru camps in Tripura today informed that it has concluded that refugees will be ‘unable to return’ unless their demands are met.
The statement says the Government of Mizoram is not following its own action plan enshrined in the road map for repatriation and the ongoing repatriation is not being held by peaceful means. It has also accused the Government of Mizoram of sending its intelligence department sleuths to visit Bru families in the camps and intimidating them.
Around 37,000 people of the Bru community fled Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts of Mizoram during the ethnic strife in 1997. They took shelter in makeshift relief camps in Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions of North Tripura district. Twenty-two years on, 32,000 still live in relief camps in Agartala. As many as 5,000 displaced members of the Bru community have returned in eight phases of repatriation held earlier.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Kanchanpur Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) said that 29 people from five families returned from the Ashapara relief camp on Thursday. Meanwhile, 235 people from 45 families have also returned so far to Lunglei and Kolasib districts of Mizoram from relief camps based in the sub-division till today.
Panisagar Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) L. Darlong told this publication that 24 people from six families returned to the Mamit district of Mizoram from Khakchang and Kaskau relief camp in the sub-division.
“There is a mixed reaction among Brus living in camps in Panisagar sub-division. Most of them are interested to go but they want to build their houses before returning to Mizoram. But I have heard that those who went back are managing well. 94 persons from 22 families have returned from camps in this sub-division till today”, L. Darlong said.